I finally got together with some of the other racers against time yesterday, for a training ride around Guildford (this one, in fact). Only five of us could make it – there will be something like 15 on the ride itself – but it was still very good to meet up and compare notes on training, fund-raising and the logistics surrounding the big event. And of course, to secretly assess relative fitness levels*…
One of the most valuable aspects of our day together was practising cycling in a group – something I almost never do. Thinking about speed and position and constantly warning the others of hazards and listening out for their warnings – all while paying the usual attention to the traffic – really kept me on my toes. I found it much more mentally tiring than cycling alone, but less physically so.
There are so many potholes around at the moment that we could pretty much count on hitting one every couple of minutes. When you’re stuck in the middle of a group and can’t clearly see the road ahead you really do depend on other riders’ warnings. Unfortunately, as we were all pretty new to the group riding thing there were several occasions when the warnings came too late, if at all, and I heard the dull thud of wheels smacking hole edges followed by the dark mutterings of shaken riders. We were lucky to escape without dinked rims or worse.
We covered the 67 miles at an average of just under 16mph, which felt reasonably comfortable, and we all had at least a small amount left in the tank at the end. But we also ruefully noted, as I have so many times on my own, that we’d need to do it all over again – and then do the same for five more days – to replicate the ride itself. That still feels an awfully long way off, but it was nice to share the terror with others in the same boat for a change.
So, we’re underway. Martin, Ed, Darren and Simon, I salute you all. I’m glad we hit it off – because we’re going to be spending a lot of time together.
In other news, I’ve decided to embrace the arrival of spring. The Enigma's mudguards are off and the new tyres are on – so it’s me you should blame when the snowstorms start next week…
*On the fitness question, I think we all emerged with honour intact. We all need to do more but no one was left behind and I don’t think anyone felt way ahead of the rest. At least I don’t think they did.